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KFD cases on the decline

Panaji: The directorate of health services has disclosed that the state has recorded only 19 Kyasanur forest disease cases this year, indicating that Goa could see the back of the disease.  

The DHS has attributed the decline to the intensified awareness campaign on the disease, which is also known as monkey fever.   

In 2016, 285 people were diagnosed with the disease in Goa, and three of them had succumbed to the disease.

In 2017, the number of KFD cases came down to 85, while 2018 recorded 59 cases.

Significantly, no KFD related deaths were reported last year.

Health officials emphasised that there have been no KFD deaths in the last three years due to the timely supportive treatment given to patients who had been suspected to be suffering from the disease.

“KFD cases have been on the decline due to the timely supportive treatment and the intensified awareness campaign among the villagers by health workers,” DHS epidemiologist Dr Utkarsh Betodkar explained.

He said that vaccination of the people living in high-risk areas could be another major factor that has pushed down the cases.

 “Other states are wasting time in referral of patients… In Goa, we immediately admit the patients and we give them first aid. This is one of the reasons for the decrease in the cases,” he said, adding that there is no definite medicine for the KFD.

Dr Betodkar said, “We ought to provide treatment at the initial stage itself. In fact, the treatment in Goa is becoming a model for other states.”

Hoping that KFD cases will decline still further next year, the epidemiologist said, “We have already started our programme for the ‘new season’, which usually begins in December and continues till the arrival of the monsoon. We are carrying out vaccination in Sattari taluka and also distributing demethyl phthalate (DMP) tick repellent oil to villagers which they have to apply on their bodies before going to forest especially in cashew plantations.”

There is enough stock of vaccination and DMP oil with the DHS to meet the requirements for the new season, Dr Betodkar said.

The disease is mostly confined to Sattari taluka, and many areas which had reported KFD cases in 2018 have not recorded any cases this year.

He urged the people to take the booster dose of the vaccination against the disease.

Skipping the second dose makes the vaccinated people vulnerable to the KFD as the first dose immunises a person for a certain period of time. Hence subsequent doses are mandatory to keep the disease at bay.

Stressing on the need for people to take precautions, he advised the villagers to avoid visiting forests unnecessarily.

The epidemiologist said that people should take extra care while visiting cashew plantations. They should walk along clear trails and avoid coming in contact with weeds.

It will be safer for people to wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants to avoid being bitten by ticks. Besides, people need to take a scrub bath on their return home to get rid of ticks, Dr Betodkar advised.

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